Oklahoma City’s mayor says MAPS panel does not need veto power
BY BRYAN DEAN •
Modified: December 13, 2009 at 9:43 am •
Published: December 13, 2009
/articleid/3424672/1/pictures/784775"> Kirk Humphreys talks about MAPS 3 during a press conference in Oklahoma City, Friday, December 4, 2009. Photo by Bryan Terry
"The board is oversight of the projects. It’s advisory to the council. The council will rely on these people to help them make those decisions.”
Ward 5 Councilman Brian Walters, the only council member who opposed MAPS 3, agreed with Cornett and White that the council should have the ultimate authority on how the estimated $777 million for the program will be spent.
"The elected officials need to be the ones that say yes or no because they are the ones that can be held accountable,” Walters said. "During the campaign, they said ‘trust us.’ I think anything that goes wrong should be laid at their feet.”
Humphreys said a more empowered oversight board makes sense with the kinds of large projects included in MAPS 3.
"Let’s say you are looking to spend $100 million of MAPS 3 money,” Humphreys said. "If you can’t get a majority of the citizen’s oversight board to agree with you, does it make sense to spend that money? I say no.”
Cornett said just because the board won’t have veto authority over how the money is spent doesn’t mean it won’t play an important role in the process.
"It is certainly not window dressing,” Cornett said.
"They are there to deal with the many, many issues that will be coming from staff needing opinion and insight so they can give the council direction.”
Oversight board applicants sought
Oklahoma City is accepting resumes by e-mail from people interested in serving on the MAPS 3 oversight board. Those interested should send their information to firstname.lastname@example.org, including no more than two pages. Ultimately, the city council will decide how many members will be on the trust and who will be appointed.
Mayor Mick Cornett said he expects the board will include no more than nine members, with appointments coming from each of the city’s wards. Cornett said he is looking for two main qualities from board members.
"We are looking for people with time on their hands who are willing to get involved,” Cornett said. "You also want people who are enthused about the projects and the future of the city.”
Ward 5 Councilman Brian Walters, who opposed MAPS 3, said he hopes members are selected who have a critical eye and aren’t part of the "usual suspects,” including major business leaders who have served on such committees before.
Former Mayor Kirk Humphreys, who helped put together the MAPS for Kids Trust, said there is nothing wrong with leaning on people who are active in the community, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of good candidates who may have never served on a city board or committee before.
"I don’t buy that we need some normal people who don’t bring something to the party,” Humphreys said. "We need normal people who do bring something to the party. There are lots of people that are very knowledgeable who don’t have any conflicts. You need people who are going to be strong enough to ask the tough questions.”